As House Minority Leader Eric Cantor exits stage right, it seems appropriate to recall some of his most memorable wingnut moments. And as David Bratt waits in the wings, it’s a good a time as any to consider that nights of wingnuttia he’s likely to reach.
When Eric Cantor lost his primary reelection bid for the seat representing Virginia’s 7th congressional district to economic professor David Bratt, it was a defeat of historic proportions. Indeed, no sitting House Majority Leader had lost an election since 1899 — when the position was created. As John Boehner wept, the rest of Washington set about figuring out what such a stunning defeat meant, and predictably decided Cantor’s defeat meant everything and nothing.
But before he goes wherever his golden parachute takes him, let’s take a look back at Eric Cantor’s career as House Majority Leader. Just before the 2010 elections, Eric Cantor was hailed as one of the “young guns” of the GOP. He, along with Reps. Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy, represented a “new generation” of young(isn) conservatives who were the future of the GOP.
Conservative columnist Fred Barnes, in the foreword of their book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, described their roles as, “Cantor the leader, Ryan the thinker, McCarthy the strategist.” Four years later, Ryan is a failed vice presidential candidate, and McCarthy is already facing a conservative revolt over the likelihood that he will succeed Cantor. Meanwhile, Cantor has already announced that he will resign his leadership position, as he prepares to make way for one even crazier than him.
Actually Cantor was never so much crazy as he was clueless. Despite his reputation as a “policy wonk,” there were suspicions that it had more to do with the old mistaken assumption that “kids who wear glasses are smart.” Cantor never brought much to the table, other than the “hand-outs” for the 2010 summit on health care reform. His first attempt at leadership, a grand “rebranding” of the GOP dubbed the “National Council for a New America,” was ripped apart by social conservatives in the GOP base, and hobbled by House rules before it go out of the starting gate. In fact, it never got out of the gate. Cantor suspended the group a year after it launched with great fanfare. And it’s still suspended.
So much for leadership. However, Cantor did morph into an effective water carrier for Wall Street, the one percent, and deficit hawks.
- On a 2011 NPR interview about congressional battles over Social Security, Cantor said: “I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those monies as their sole source of income. So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”
- In response to a report by Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics that GOP cuts would kill 700,000 jobs, Cantor’s response echoed John Boehner’s, “So be it,” and could be summed up as, “So what?”: “What kind of jobs is he talking about? Is he talking about government jobs? If so, why is the government hiring people it can’t afford to pay? This is obviously an unsustainable solution and something we’re trying to correct in our CR.” (Because government jobs aren’t “real” jobs.)
- Cantor’s 2011 speech on income inequality and what the GOP might do about it focused on how Washington could help “a single working mom…a small business owner…and how we make sure the people at the top stay there.”
That’s what we’re losing in Cantor: not much. What we’re getting in David Brat is another story entirely. Televangelist Rick Joyner may liken Brat to the “greatest prophets” who arose “when ancient Israel fell into its deepest debauchery,” but fellow economists look askance at his “unusual” but “not impressive” resume. He runs a program funded by the BB&T Bank for the purpose of teaching the ideas of libertarian icon Ayn Rand. So, there’s gotta be lots more crazy there.
Here’s the rest of the best of wingnuttia this week.
- Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar cited Eric Cantor’s defeat as a reason the House should impeach Attorney General Eric Holder because, “People are fed up, we saw the election last night, people are scared and they are angry.”
- He’s barely out the door, but right-wing rocker Ted Nugent celebrated Eric Cantor’s defeat by claiming the only Jewish Republican in Congress practice the politics of Nazi leader and propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
- Not one to be left out, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock compared America’s current direction to Nazi Germany, during a farewell speech to the Indiana Republican convention.
- Conservative columnist George Will wrote that liberals and feminists have turned being a rape survivor into such a “coveted status that confers privileges,” that women will lie about being raped just to be afforded that status.
- In an interview with Steve Malzbert, Rep. Steve Stockman (R, Texas) said that President Obama “has a grudge against the military and the American people,” and “propensity to fall again and again on the side of terrorists” in countries like Egypt, Syria and Libya.”
- Iowa Republican senate candidate Joni Ernst was “appalled” by her husband’s inflammatory Facebook posts calling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “hag” and then secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank.”
- Oklahoma Republican and tea party candidate Scott Esk got into trouble over Facebook comments advocating the stoning gays. “I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” Esk wrote in recently uncovered comments. Esk is running for Oklahoma’s House of Representatives.
- There was a “murmur of disbelief” in the audience when Texas governor Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism during a talk in San Francisco, California, of all places.
- It turns out the Independent Women’s Forum, a right-wing women’s group, is too dependent on Rush Limbaugh’s money to call him out on his long history of sexist remarks.
- Fox News “Outnumbered” contributor Jesse Watters said that statutory rape doesn’t count if the victim’s a boy, because “if you’re a 16-year-old kid and you have sex with your best friend’s mom, you usually get high fives.”
- Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell wrote in the Washington Post that the best way to end violence against women is to “Stop taking lovers and get married.” Hey, it worked for Ike and Tina. Didn’t it?